In relation to construction claims and disputes it is important for all readers, contributors, participants and others regarding the general subject of claims and disputes to be equally informed. This discussion is directed toward engineering and construction claims and disputes.
In the engineering and construction industry, contract claims and disputes are common issues. They occur between: owners and contractors (prime), contractors and their subcontractors, contractors and (their) vendors, and at other contractual interfaces. Resolution of the claims and disputes can be a costly, disruptive and aggravating process for all parties.
This discussion is intended to have a business management, program management and project management perspective. Analytical details are not our intention. In addition, it is important to note that McLaughlin and McLaughlin [M&M] is not a law firm and is not intending to provide legal advice. M&M is a consulting firm providing (among other services) non-legal expertise in dispute resolution and litigation support. For further information on M&M services, please see www.McLaughlinandMcLaughlin.com.
In the engineering and construction industry, claims and disputes take many forms and focus on many topics. For simplicity of discussion, we will use the follow the following categories:
- Scope of Work, Changed Work or Variations
- Delay/Acceleration, Time-Related
- Disruption/Productivity (usually labor/labour)
- Terms and Conditions.
A simplistic definition of a claim can be found in Project Management Institute (PMI) documentation. PMI’s PROJECT MANAGEMENT BODY OF KNOWLEDGE defines a “Claim” as “A request, demand, or assertion of rights by a seller against a buyer, or vice versa, for consideration, compensation, or payment under the terms of a legally binding contract, such as for a disputed change.” While simplistic, this definition can be viewed as a starting point for discussion. A construction claim is more specifically a claim under the construction contract. William Schwartzkopf and John J. McNamara explain further:
“A construction claim consists of two major parts: (1) the entitlement section, which typically includes a detailed description of the actions or inactions of the party from whom relief is sought, entitling the claimant to compensation; and (2) the damages section, which sets forth the calculations and support for the compensation claimed.” (link)
Pressing into more detailed categories (as listed above), there are some key industry references that elaborate on specific categories. References with listings include (but are far from limited to) (sorry for the ones I missed):
- Construction Change Order Claims, Michael T. Callahan
- Estimating Lost Labor Productivity in Construction Claims, AACE International Recommended Practice No 25R-03f
- Delay and Disruption in Construction Contracts, Keith Pickavance
- Construction Scheduling: Preparation, Liability and Claims, Jon M. Wickwire, et. al.
- Calculating Construction Damages, William Schwartzkopf and John McNamara
- Construction Claims Deskbook, Robert S. Brams and Christopher Lerner
- The Society of Construction Law Delay and Disruption Protocol, Society of Construction Law
- Modification Impact Evaluation Guide, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Construction Delay Claims, Barry B. Bramble and Michael T. Callahan
Discussions on engineering and construction claims and disputes are quite complicated. There are niche industries of consultants and law firms that specialize in this work, as well as extensive resources and writings published and available through the public domain. To help target your particular interests, we will cite legitimate references where known to M&M. Hopefully, comments and contributors will elaborate on this body of knowledge.
For additional information and posts, please visit Subject Series Construction Claims and Disputes.
In addition, it is important to note that McLaughlin and McLaughlin [M&M] ( is not a law firm and is not intending to provide legal advice. M&M is a consulting firm providing (among other services) non-legal expertise in dispute resolution and litigation support. Since M&M provides project development and management services (large and complex projects) as well, M&M brings a “practioner” perspective to this market. For further information on M&M services, please see www.McLaughlinandMcLaughlin.com.